Did It Or Didn't It?

 I gave up a long time ago trying to understand the bizarre machinations of how things work (or don’t) in Venezuela. One thing I do know is that whatever is going on, somebody, somewhere is making money. It’s either that or someone is covering up for gross incompetence. I don’t know that it applies in this case but I wouldn’t be surprised.

 Caracas Chronicles reports that Venezuela’s ID system has been offline for over 3 weeks. On June 17th the website for SAIME ( the Venezuela government agency for all ID documents including passports) “crashed” and as of July 14th it still wasn’t up and running…But did it really crash?

 On July 10th, IT professional Jesus Lara said the website disappeared from Google searches because “the domain registry has been deleted”. He found, and verified on the DNS history, that the website was deleted June 17th, the same day as “the crash” and that when that information went viral SAIME put the website back online saying that they’re doing maintenance but the SSL certificate was purchased on July 11th. Now SAIME’s director says they’ll be handing out 25,000 passports a day (seems like a lot) beginning in August.

 So what does all this mean and why did it happen? Did some corrupt employee find a buyer for all the blank IDs, like passports, and it will take until August to replace them? Or maybe somebody clicked where they shouldn’t have clicked and infected the system with a virus? Who knows? Remember the story last week where that FARC dissident leader was reported killed, confirmed killed, then reported to be in an ICU in Caracas, then the authorities said they had no idea as to his whereabouts and couldn’t comment as to whether he was alive or not. We may never know what exactly happened here or why…but we do know it doesn’t look good it you need a passport before August (unless you can pay somebody off…shocking!)

 And then we have a little fallout from the Emtrasur Boeing 747 flight and crew detained and under investigation in Argentina for over a month now. Their parent company, Conviasa, has cancelled all 12 remaining flights for July between Caracas and Buenos Aires. They also cancelled 4 flights between Santiago, Chile and Caracas. Remember, Chile got involved in calling out Iran’s terrorist ties (hence Venezuela’s terrorist ties).

 Then we have PR Web telling us that Hostage Aid Worldwide is calling for an international treaty and definition of “Diplomatic Hostage” as the 1979 International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages has been unable to prevent the scourge of hostage taking, citing countries such as Iran, China, Venezuela, Syria, and others.

 And we have Jamaica Gleaner telling us that Saint Vincent’s Prime Minister says Maduro’s plan to revive Petro Caribe, the socioeconomic / political organization founded by Hugo Chavez, includes forgiving 50% of the debt of member countries (he eliminated 100% of Saint Vincent’s debt) and offer fuel at a 35% discount. He said Maduro also offered supplying him with fertilizer (despite Venezuela’s critical fertilizer shortage…kinda’ like the Maduro regime sending gasoline to Cuba while Venezuelans wait in line for days to buy gas). The Belize Prime Minister says the threat of a Petro Caribe restart has Washington considering sanctions relief, that they realize the importance of Venezuela to the region. (Venezuela’s importance to the region is negative, except to Cuba and a little debt forgiveness) He also cited Maduro’s “historic agreements”.

 Then we have Bitcoin.com reporting that Venezuela is ranked 3rd in the world in cryptocurrency adoption (it was #1) behind Russia and Ukraine. So, we have a story of two wars, huh? Russia’s war against Ukraine and 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism’s war against the Venezuelan people.

 And we have Lloyd’s List reporting that the UK High Court has ruled that Venezuela’s claim over the “rammed” patrol boat must go to arbitration. Venezuela is seeking payment from an insurer after sinking their Coast Guard vessel in a failed ramming attempt. I guess this will come down to “who’s ramming who” (or is it whom?).

 Then we have the Washington Examiner telling us that Jorge Toledo, one of the “Citgo Six”, imprisoned by Venezuela Military Intelligence since 2017, (Why is Military Intelligence involved in the imprisonment of a civilian anyway?) is appealing to President Joe Biden to help obtain his release.(he has dual citizenship) In addition to being condemned without any evidence and denied due process (Maybe that’s why Military Intelligence is involved) he cited a list of health issues including pneumonia, kidney failure, scabies, and more. One of the “Citgo Six” was released in March and the other five remain in prison.

 And Law 360 is telling us that Helmerich & Payne, an Oklahoma-based drilling company, is urging a D.C. Federal Court to not let Venezuela escape it’s decade-old expropriation lawsuit in light of the recent decision weakening sovereign immunity. The asset seizures occurred in 2010.

 Then we have VOA with the State Department telling us that the US remains committed to democracy in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela where the governments aren’t concerned with addressing the needs of their own people…Seems kinda’ “boiler-plate” by the US State Department.

 And we have Ukr Agro Consult telling us that Iran will use over 1 million hectares (2 and 1/2 million acres) in Venezuela to grow food.No details were provided by either Venezuela or Iran but we think Venezuela should focus on doing whatever they can to produce food for their own people. Then again, as the VOA article said, the Maduro regime isn’t really concerned about the needs of the Venezuelan people.

 Then we have a follow-up on the story of the 12 people charged with the 2020 murder of a Marxist scholar, including his wife. The Prosecutor General posted a video of his wife confessing to planning the murder. A former prosecutor says the Public Ministry hasn’t acted in accordance with the law (shocking!) and if the testimonies (2) are thrown out there’s no case as there’s no weapon, body, blood, or forensics. (not that it matters…in the land of Chavismo the law is what they say it is)

 And we have Maduro’s Foreign Minister meeting with the Director of the EU External Action Service to strengthen cooperation in matters of energy, the environment, and health. Do we have another “historic, strategic agreement” coming?

 Then we have the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ranking Venezuela 2nd worst in Latin America for most hunger behind only Haiti. In 2013 the FAO recognized Hugo Chavez for “overcoming poverty and hunger”…now the poverty rate is 95% (50% before 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism) and Venezuelans dig for food out of the back of garbage trucks.

 And we have active and retired public workers protesting outside the UN Development Program offices for government wage cuts, missed bonus payments, and reduction or elimination of benefits.

 Then we have INAMEH reporting a large flow of Saharan dust headed for Venezuela …Yikes! …as if it wasn’t already Biblical enough in Venezuela.

 And we have Hidrocapital (Venezuela water utility) saying the maintenance and repairs to the Tuy pumping system are almost completed. Tuy supplies most of the water to Caracas. Is this just another band-aid after the catastrophic failure from the massive nationwide blackouts of 2019?

 Then we have the news that Carlos Orense Azocar aka. “El Gordo”, one of the main logistics operatives for drug trafficking cartel “Los Soles” (with possible ties to Venezuela’s number two man, Diosdado Cabello) has been extradited from Italy to the US.

 And on a positive note, we have UCAB, a private university, has opened a new E-sports center. They’re getting in on the ground floor of possible official recognition of gaming as an Olympic-class sport.

 More tomorrow….

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